Postal Services Bill

Part of Planning (Developer Bonds) – in the House of Commons at 2:05 pm on 27th October 2010.

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Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 2:05 pm, 27th October 2010

The hon. Gentleman might want to correct the official record if that is the case.

Let me explain why we need the Bill. We should ask what will happen if we do not act, and do not proceed with it. The Government believe that we still need a universal postal service, collecting from all post boxes and delivering to all 28 million postal addresses six days a week. We will still be required under EU law to fund the universal service if no one can provide it commercially, so the taxpayer could be left to pick up the pieces. We cannot predict how much that would cost, or when it would happen if no action were taken, but we know that it would not be cheap and we are not prepared to take that risk with taxpayers' money-not with the public finances in the current state. That is why we are determined to press ahead with the Bill.

This is not simply about making sure that taxpayers do not have to cover the costs: it is about doing what is right for the future of the company and its employees. Richard Hooper is clear that if his recommendations are taken forward urgently, the Royal Mail has a potentially healthy future. As my predecessor, Mr McFadden, said almost two years ago,

"I believe that Royal Mail and the postal market can thrive in the future, provided that decisive action is taken now."-[ Hansard, 16 December 2008; Vol. 485, c. 966.]

We are taking that action.

The problems that Royal Mail faces can be addressed through the Bill. After all, it is the only company with the ability to visit all 28 million addresses on a daily basis. It has an unrivalled customer base, and it can build on its position as the leading provider of letters and parcels by providing a new range of digital products for its customers. The Bill is the only way that we can make that positive future a reality.